This first “Servant Song” sees Israel as God’s servant who failed. It sees the Messiah, who epitomizes Israel, as the servant who succeeds at God’s will.
NOTE: This text includes one of the four “Songs of the Suffering Servant” in Isaiah:
- Isaiah 42:1-17. Servant Song #1
- Isaiah 49:1-7. The LORD’s Servant will will evangelize the Gentiles
- Isaiah 50:4-6. The life of the Suffering Servant
- Isaiah 53:1-12. The Servant of the LORD
Behold, my servant. There are two main interpretations of this phrase:
- The nation of Israel. As God’s servant, they were to help bring the world to a knowledge of God. But they failed. This is a Jewish interpretation.
- The Messiah. He epitomizes the nation of Israel. And he will fulfill God’s will. This is a Christian interpretation.
This is the first of four (or five) “Servant Songs.” They were first identified by Bernhard Duhm in his 1892 commentary on Isaiah. They include:
|Isaiah 42:1-4||The Servant will bring justice to the earth|
|Isaiah 49:1-6||The Servant’s pre-natal calling to lead both Israel and the nations|
|Isaiah 50:4-9||The Servant is both a teacher and a learner who follows God’s path|
|Isaiah 52:13 to 53:12||The suffering servant bears the punishments and afflictions of others|
|Isaiah 61:1-3||Some scholars regard this as a fifth servant song, although the word “servant” is not mentioned|
nor raise his voice. This chosen servant of the LORD is not a political leader.
He won’t break a bruised reed. This chosen servant of the LORD is nonviolent.
BBE translation. His light will not be put out, and he will not be crushed, till he has given the knowledge of the true God to the earth, and the sea-lands will be waiting for his teaching.
given the knowledge of the true God. Eternal life is knowing God the Father and Jesus Christ. Do you know them? Do you have a love-relationship with them? Here are the Bible verses about this »
to the earth. The intent is not simply to evangelize the neighborhood or the city. Rather, the vision is for the whole planet. This is a great vision for the ministry of evangelism.
A famous missionary named C. T. Studd (1860-1931) said this:
Some want to life within the sound of church or chapel bell. I want to run a rescue shop, within a yard of hell.
the sea-lands. Some translations say “the coastlands.” It means the lands of the Mediterranean sea.
VERSE 5. God the LORD, he who created the heavens and stretched them out, he who spread out the earth and that which comes out of it, he who gives breath to its people and spirit to those who walk in it, says:
VERSE 6. “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness. I will hold your hand. I will keep you, and make you a covenant for the people, as a light for the nations,
NLT translation. You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons.
open the eyes of the blind. To some extent, all of us are spiritually blind. All of us are in constant need of having our eyes freshly opened.
Yet to some extent, we can see. We have a mission to open the eyes of those who cannot see. This is an effect of the ministry of evangelism: it opens people’s eyes.
free the captives from prison. Many people are locked up in spiritual prisons. They need to be liberated. This is an effect of the ministry of evangelism: it liberates people from prisons.
releasing those who sit in dark dungeons. Many people sit in spiritual darkness. They need the light of Jesus Christ to shine into their lives. This too is an effect of the ministry of evangelism.
VERSE 8. “I am the LORD. That is my name. I will not give my glory to another, nor my praise to engraved images.
VERSE 9. Behold, the former things have happened and I declare new things. I tell you about them before they come up.”
VERSE 10. Sing to the LORD a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is therein, the islands and their inhabitants.
VERSE 11. Let the wilderness and its cities raise their voices, with the villages that Kedar inhabits. Let the inhabitants of Sela sing. Let them shout from the top of the mountains!
VERSE 12. Let them give glory to the LORD, and declare his praise in the islands.
NAB translation. The LORD goes forth like a hero, like a warrior he stirs up his ardor; He shouts out his battle cry, against his enemies he shows his might:
like a warrior he stirs up his ardor. The word “ardor” means fierce intensity of feelings.
How can you stir yourself up for God?
VERSE 15. I will destroy mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs. I will make the rivers islands, and will dry up the pools.
VERSE 16. I will bring the blind by a way that they don’t know. I will lead them in paths that they don’t know. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. I will do these things, and I will not forsake them.
NAB translation. I will lead the blind on their journey; by paths unknown I will guide them. I will turn darkness into light before them, and make crooked ways straight. These things I do for them, and I will not forsake them.
VERSE 17. “Those who trust in engraved images, who tell molten images, ‘You are our gods,’ will be turned back. They will be utterly disappointed.
VERSE 18. “Hear, you deaf, and look, you blind, that you may see.
VERSE 19. Who is blind, but my servant? Or who is as deaf as my messenger whom I send? Who is as blind as he who is at peace, and as blind as the LORD’s servant?
VERSE 20. You see many things, but don’t observe. His ears are open, but he doesn’t listen.
VERSE 21. It pleased the LORD, for his righteousness’ sake, to magnify the law and make it honorable.
VERSE 22. But this is a robbed and plundered people. All of them are snared in holes, and they are hidden in prisons. They have become captives, and no one delivers, and a plunder, and no one says, ‘Restore them!’
robbed and plundered people. This refers to Israel when they were in exile.
VERSE 23. Who is there among you who will give ear to this? Who will listen and hear for the time to come?
the robbers. That is, the Assyrians and the Babylonians.
VERSE 25. Therefore he poured the fierceness of his anger on him, and the strength of battle. It set him on fire all around, but he didn’t know. It burned him, but he didn’t take it to heart.”
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.